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Where should people look for a will when a loved one dies?

On Behalf of | Nov 4, 2023 | Estate Administration And Probate |

Losing a loved one is a very difficult experience. Many people experience depression that manifests as inertia after a great loss. They may have a difficult time handling daily life, to say nothing of the unique challenges that come with estate administration. Some people delay taking necessary probate steps, which can complicate the process or possibly even endanger their ability to assume a role as the personal representative of the estate as a result of their grief.

One of the very first steps necessary during probate proceedings is the location of someone’s will so that it can be submitted it to the probate courts. Taking this single step forward can help to break up the inertia that can impact the entire administration process. It can be helpful to look in the following places if one isn’t sure where to start.

With the deceased’s estate planning attorney

The most straightforward means of gaining access to someone’s estate planning paperwork will often involve bringing a copy of their death certificate to the lawyer who helps them draft the documents. Testators will usually share the name of the lawyer they relied on with their family members. That way, the people who will be in charge of estate administration can quickly and easily obtain copies of estate planning paperwork and other crucial information.

In safes or safety deposit boxes

Many people keep their original signed documents in their most secure location. For some people, that will be a fire-proof safe in their homes. For others, it will be a safety deposit box at their financial institution. Checking these locations, as well as the office of the testator, will often be useful for family members unsure of who the attorney was or in need of the original documents.

With certain court clerks

Virginia allows testators and the lawyers who help draft their testamentary documents to store the document with the local courts for safekeeping. They submit the original paperwork to the court clerk based on jurisdiction rules. Either the testator or their attorney should have a storage receipt somewhere referencing the document submitted to the courts. People can then collect the stored will from the court clerk in a sealed envelope. This step is useful in cases where people worry about the possibility of people interfering with their documents or destroying them.

Taking the right steps to locate testamentary documents can help people begin the often complex process of estate administration after the death of a loved one. Seeking legal guidance for personalized feedback and support is always an option under such circumstances.